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Meet Madison Cox – ESC Elections – VP, Finance

Photo Courtesy Madison Cox

As part of our elections coverage, The Lion is sharing responses from candidates about the following questions:

  1. What motivated you to run for this position?
  2. If elected, what would your goals be?
  3. What is something you want to fix at Columbia? How would you plan to address it?
  4. Any additional comments you would like to share with voters?

Below, you can find the candidate(s)’s unfiltered responses to help in deciding who you choose to vote for.  The Lion has yet to endorse any candidate at this time and the views below do not necessarily represent the views of our team. For more information, email submissions@columbialion.com.

What motivated you to run for this position?

I have been treasurer of Columbia University’s Engineers Without Borders (CU-EWB) for the past two years. During this time I’ve become very frustrated with the lack of transparency of the student council. I was not sure what I needed to do or how to do it. I spent hours wading through the Columbia financial system before finally figuring out how to apply for the Joint Council Co-sponsorship Committee (JCCC) fund, what the Capital Investment Fund (CIF) is, and what I need to write in the Activities Board at Columbia (ABC) allocation packet. Coincidentally, the allocation you get from ABC depends on how much you take advantage of the JCCC and CIF. If you do not know how to apply for those, good luck getting the allocation you need. It was lucky that I had time and that I had smart people, like Sidney Perkins, to guide me. The more I learned about the current system, the more upset I became at how hard these things were to locate, apply, and understand. It should not be hard to apply to the JCCC. It should not be confusing, especially since most clubs get a new treasurer every year. I offer a unique perspective for VP finance in the sense that my experience is from the club’s point of view. I know what works and what hinders from personal experience.

If elected, what would your goals be?

I have three major goals. My first goal is increasing the transparency of financial decisions. My second goal is for every club to get the funding they need because they know how the system works and what to do. My third is expanding the project grant program to increase the number of superusers in the Maker Space.

What is something you want to fix at Columbia? How would you plan to address it?

Year after year councils pledge to better publicize the core funding resources at Columbia—the JCCC, CIF, and project grants—and yet there are still communication barriers. This is a failure of VP finance to reach its full potential. Additionally, the clubs that do know about these funds often do not realize the best way to apply for them. This is also a failure of VP finance. If elected, I would work hard to solve these two issues. First, I would meet with clubs to go over the different ways they can fund their mission. Secondly, I would develop a website in conjunction with VP communications to publish previous applications to these funds. Additionally we would show their decision statuses so that groups could reference other decisions in crafting their applications. Thirdly, I would make myself personally available to go over the criteria and the application process should any club still feel confused.

Additionally, I think there is general confusion about who gets money and why. This applies not just to clubs but to students applying to Engineering Student Council grants. This is an issue of transparency. I would like to show exactly why they did not get the money and to offer ideas on how the grant can be improved. I would like to make this information to be public, so everybody can see what works and what does not. Having accessible institutional memory is valuable for clubs applying in the future, current members of the Student Council board, and future members of the Student Council board. This would also make turnover of the VP finance position painless and easy.

For the Maker Space, I would like to improve upon what is already in place to make it more beneficial to become a superuser. Increasing the amount of superusers—especially among underclassmen—is of utmost importance. I would like to offer grants specifically to superusers, so they can work on their projects without having to worry about money. Most importantly though, I plan on working directly alongside those running the Maker Space to find the best way to do this. This resource would be created for students by students.

Any additional comments you would like to share with voters?

The most important idea I want to get across is how dedicated I am to make financing easier for clubs and for students. Student Council is about students first and foremost, an idea which is often forgotten. I bring a unique perspective to council because I haven’t been on it before but have experienced it as someone directly affected by their decisions. I would also like to encourage everybody to vote on Wednesday!

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